City News: July 2009 Archives

(Harris') Gottschalks gone

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July 2009
Store closing

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July 2009
Sign says it all

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July 2009
Final day

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1964
Back in the day

This past weekend saw the end of an era as Fresno-based Gottschalks closed for good on Sunday. For local folks, this also means an end to what once was the remnants of San Bernardino-based The Harris Co., which operated 7 department stores across Inland Southern California before the chain was sold to Gottschalks in 1998.

At the Riverside Plaza location, shoppers crowded parts of the first floor to buy merchandise that had been reduced up to 95% in the store's final days. Also up for sale were fixtures and even signage. Other areas of the selling floor had already been stripped bare of most merchandise.

The 3-story (plus basement) store will be transformed into a large-format Forever 21, which is expected to open sometime in August. Yet to be made public is exactly how much of the 204,000 sq. ft. former Gottschalks will be used by Forever 21. It's possible sub-leasing might take place.

As for both Gottschalks and Harris', what began in 1904 and 1905 respectively, is now history. The story behind both chains offer similar parallels, each having been founded by newly immigrated German families (Emil Gottschalk and Philip, Herman and Arthur Harris respectively).

Although Gottschalks grew much faster as a chain in the post-war years relative to Harris', both chains remained independently owned for many decades, thriving on local control and insights. For Harris', this led to a very loyal customer base, becoming what many considered the Marshall Field's of the Inland region.

By 1981, however, the smaller Harris' chain was facing stiffer competition against the larger department stores. It was at this time that third-generation members of the Harris family decided to sell the Inland Southern California chain to Spanish retailer El Corte Ingles.

And by the time of their 1998 merger -- in which the 7 local Harris' stores were re-branded as Harris'-Gottschalks -- both chains were beginning to struggle against the national department stores and discount chains. Within 10 years, signs of possible selling off to larger chains began to surface at Gottschalks, none of which managed to fully materialize. As such, it was a dire economy that finally ended the chain for good as Gottschalks filed for bankruptcy in early 2009.

In today's mega-franchise retailing environment, such personalized regional chains are a rarity (and likely to become even more so). And with Sunday's closure of the 58-store Gottschalks chain -- most of which were located in California -- the last remnants of Harris' is no more as well.

Related

Previous

Update

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July 2009
Last day!
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July 2009
Empty cases
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July 2009
Clearing out
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July 2009
Display sales


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July 2009
Escalator up
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July 2009
Nothing left
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July 2009
RIP
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July 2009
'H' for Harris'



Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, Fresno Bee, Riverside Plaza, "The Harris Company" (Aimmee L. Rodriguez, Richard A. Hanks, Robin S. Hanks)


More - City News: July 2009:
April 2012 | March 2012 | December 2011 | November 2011 | August 2011 | July 2011 | June 2011 | May 2011 | March 2011 | December 2010 | November 2010 | October 2010 | September 2010 | June 2010 | May 2010 | February 2010 | January 2010 | November 2009 | September 2009 | August 2009 | July 2009 | June 2009 | May 2009 | April 2009 | February 2009 | January 2009 | December 2008 | November 2008 | September 2008 | August 2008 | July 2008 | June 2008 | May 2008 | April 2008 | March 2008 | February 2008 | December 2007 | October 2007 | July 2007 | June 2007 | May 2007 | April 2007 | March 2007 | February 2007 | November 2006 | September 2006 | August 2006 | July 2006 | June 2006 | May 2006 | December 2005 | October 2004 | January 2004 | December 2003 | November 2003 |

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the City News category from July 2009.

City News: June 2009 is the previous archive.

City News: August 2009 is the next archive.

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